Opener Abid Ali lived up to his solid batsman reputation by scoring a hundred on debut and Mohammad Rizwan registered his second hundred in the series but Pakistan failed to win the fourth ODI against Australia, going down by a mere six runs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Abid’s 119-ball 111 with nine boundaries and Rizwan’s 102-ball 104 laced with nine boundaries and a six had set the chase courtesy a 144-run stand for the third-wicket but later order batsmen failed to sustain the momentum as Pakistan faltered in the hunt for 17 runs in the final over.
Glenn Maxwell scored 98, Usman Khawaja 62 and Alex Carey 55 to guide Australia to 277-7 in their 50 overs.
Abid and Rizwan put on a solid 144-run stand to help Pakistan set up the chase but once Abid fell in the 42nd over, caught off leg-spinner Adam Zampa, Australia pulled back.
Umar Akmal and Saad Ali failed under pressure, scoring seven each while stand-in skipper Imad Wasim fell for just one. Pakistan needed 22 off the last two overs and 17 in the last but Marcus Stoinis kept his nerves to get Rizwan and Usman Shinwari in the last over to help Australia snatch an improbable victory.
Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when Shan Masood was bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile off the fifth ball of the innings.
But Abid, included in the side two hours before the start after Imam-u-Haq was ruled out with fever, and Haris Sohail made up for that early loss of the wicket by adding 74 for the second-wicket as Australia attacked through spinners at both ends as the pitch started to take turn.
Haris fell to that trap as he played straight into the hands of short extra-cover off Nathan Lyon.
From 74 for two, Rizwan made life tough for Australian spinners, sweeping and pulling them to perfection to complete his fourth half-century off 53 balls.
Abid was lucky not to be dismissed for 98 as umpire Kumar Dharmasena turned down a leg-before appeal off leg-spinner Adam Zampa. The review went on umpire’s call, much to the relief of Abid.
He took a single off Zampa and then another off Lyon to complete his hundred. He is the 15th batsman overall and third Pakistani behind Salim Elahi (102 not out vs Sri Lanka at Gujranwala 1995) and Imam (100 vs Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in 2017) to achieve the feat of a century on ODI debut.
Abid finally went back off Zampa in the 42nd over when Pakistan needed 60 off the last 8.5 overs.
Australia lead the series 4-0 with the final game again in Dubai on Sunday.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch praised the fighting spirit of his team.
“We knew how slow the wicket was, we knew if we could get some new batters in it would be tough,” said Finch. “Credit to our boys, though Abid and Rizwan getting hundreds were great knocks. Maxwell played really well, assessing the situation, taking it deep.”
Imad blamed the later order batsmen.
“We were lacking the power hitting,” said Imad. “We were short, so it shows we were lacking something. Some of the shots were not on in that situation. But if you’re not learning after playing so much cricket, you can’t do anything. But the hundreds were positives for us.”
Pakistan could have restricted Australia to below what they got but a dropped catch by wicketkeeper Rizwan off Yasir Shah gave Maxwell a life when he was 10.
Maxwell helped Australia recover with a 134-run stand alongside Alex Carey as the two steadied the innings until Maxwell was run out in the final over, trying to take a second run.
The partnership was a new record for the sixth-wicket for Australia against Pakistan, beating the 90-run stand between Rod Marsh and Dirk Wellham at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1981.
That stand lifted Australia from 140-5 after Imad (2-56), Yasir Shah (2-57) and Mohammad Hasnain (2-52) had shook Australia in the middle overs.
Sent into bat, Australia raced to 56 when the rookie paceman Hasnain had Finch leg-before for 39 for his first international wicket. Hasnain was congratulated by all team-mates in a show of great encouragement.
Imad and Yasir then took the next four wickets as Shaun Marsh was stumped for five and Peter Handscomb was caught in the slip by Haris. Yasir then had Usman Khawaja caught in front of the wicket after a solid 78-ball knock which had six boundaries. Yasir also had Marcus Stoinis for two, bowled off a googly.
Australia beat Pakistan by six runs in fourth ODI in Dubai
Australia 277-7 in 50 overs (Glenn Maxwell 98, Usman Khawaja 62, Alex Carey 55; Mohammad Hasnain 2-52, Imad Wasim 2-56, Yasir Shah 2-57)
Pakistan 271-8 in 50 overs (Abid Ali 112, Mohammad Rizwan 104; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-53